FIRST PLACE - Monica Laronda & Adam Jakus: Supporting Potential Life

Collaboration is often the key to scientific innovation. Here, a reproductive biologist and a materials scientist and engineer teamed up to help cancer survivors who struggle to conceive children.

The image centers on a mouse ovarian follicle (in purple). An ovarian follicle is made up of a developing egg and its surrounding support cells. Normally follicles develop within healthy ovaries, but they can be damaged by harsh cancer therapies. Healthy follicles can be removed before patients undergo treatment, but afterward these saved follicles often struggle to grow into healthy eggs.

Laronda and Jakus have created a new paper-like biomaterial made of ovarian proteins (in green). It is designed to support removed follicles as they develop into mature eggs. This image shows a healthy follicle flourishing in the new environment. Someday supportive biomaterials like these could help cancer survivors grow families of their own.

Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology + Department of Materials Science & Engineering 

Tools & Techniques: Scanning Electron Microscope + colored in Photoshop

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